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COMMISSIONER SEEKS TO EXTEND PRE-K TEACHER CERTIFICATION DEADLINE

NJ Commissioner of Education William Librera filed an application with the NJ Supreme Court on May 18 requesting an extension of the September 2004 deadline for certification of all Abbott preschool teachers.

In the Court filing, Ellen Frede, Special Assistant for Early Childhood Education, explains that the extension is needed for "a small, finite group" of teachers in community provider programs who "have been working diligently towards attainment of certification, but are unable to meet the September, 2004 deadline..." Dr. Frede estimates that 1337 of the 1522 teachers in comminity provider programs are already certified, but another 125 have made progress and will need more time to complete their BA degree.

The September 2004 deadline was established in the Abbott VI ruling (2000) to meet the Court's mandate for high quality, universal preschool in the Abbott districts.

The specific plan presented by Commissioner Librera provides that:

  • Teachers who need less than 30 credits to complete their BA are eligible for an extension if they present a detailed, individualized plan to complete their degree by September 2006
  • Teachers who need more than 30 credits are not eligible for the extension but can apply to the NJ Department of Education for a waiver of the new September 2006 deadline
  • Head Start teachers in programs contracting under Abbott after September 2000 are eligible for an extension if they present a plan to complete their BA degree within four years of the initial program contract date

Teachers seeking an extension must file an application with their district, with supporting materials, no later than July 1, 2004.

The Association for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) has issued an Action Alert providing more information on the extension criteria, and application process and forms. Teachers are encouraged to immediately contact their district’s preschool program supervisor, or Cynthia Rice at ACNJ.